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Beware New Call Centers(ET 22nd Jan)

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  • #14733
    Ajai Bhatnagar

    Fraud is becoming a menace for the Indian call centre industry. Of late, there have been instances of people posing as agents, cheating call centres by claiming to have large orders in hand.

    Once the call centre pays a fee or commission, these ‘agents’ disappear. Many small centres, faced with poor business, have taken the bait and burnt their fingers.

    There’s another kind of trickster plaguing the industry: ‘clients’ who get a contract executed and then vanish without paying their dues.

    With the mushrooming of call centres in the country, many fly-by-night operators have emerged to take advantage of the situation. Says Vineet Mittal, president, Infowavz, “These sort of fly-by-night operators are giving the Indian BPO industry a bad name. While established call centres are sophisticated enough to differentiate between genuine clients and fraudulent companies, the new entrants in the BPO/CRM sector need to be careful in selecting their clients and should always do proper due diligence before entering into any relationship.”

    For instance, according to industry sources, there is a team of two individuals, one Indian and one American, doing the rounds, claiming to have large orders on hand.

    They tap call centre aspirants, even help them to put the basic infrastructure in place. Their modus operandi: to procure equipment from second-rung manufacturers at huge commissions and sell it to the call centre aspirant.

    They even take an advance for this equipment, and getting some peripheral work done. Finally, when the time for payment arrives, they disappear.

    As call centres rarely take any security like a letter of credit from the duo, they have no recourse. Moreover, they are left with low quality set-ups.

    “Unlike other exporters selling physical goods which can be resold even if they are rejected, in case of the call centre business this is not possible. Most call centres are running like hotels where the guest or clients check in, enjoy the services and the bill is only presented at the end of the stay. Call centres have to take some kind of security or letter of credit,” says Sam Chopra, CEO, Cybiz Call.

    Similarly, there are also umpteen cases of middlemen declaring that they have orders on hand. Some may have genuine orders, largely from overseas friends and relatives, but their intentions are far from honourable.

    For, most of this work involves low-end, outbound telemarketing jobs paid on the basis of performance. While some of these tricksters vanish after getting the work done, others disappear after making an initial payment.

    “There are many opportunistic intermediaries, who are posing as gatekeepers of call centre deals. Many companies who do not have the sophistication, expertise and capability are falling prey to them and are losing money in the process. Many providers go to the extent of paying advance to these entities in a desperate bid to gain business only realising that they have been cheated without any legal or financial recourse,” says Aparup Sengupta, president, Global CMS.

    Most of the established call centres are flooded with e-mails from such middlemen. Says Abhay Chauhan, VP, Transworks, “I have received many e-mails from people who say that they have tonnes of business and want an advance payment, but I have always deleted these mails and never cared to respond. I would be surprised if they actually get someone to pay them an advance. The company that does this deserves to lose money!”

    Agrees Hariharan TS, VP,, “We have been regularly contacted by several “middlemen” saying they have contacts in the US and the UK and can offload work to us with a management fee. We refuse to have any discussions with middlemen in this business.”



    Thanks for the eye-opener. There are many newbies out there who think that Call Center business is easy money and without any knowledge or research, jump into the business, only to be taken in by the “Sharks” out there.


    Antony Linus

    Would you be able to let us know the name of this American. We are infact setting up our call center in cochin and few people have contact us as agents and promising business. In this a American has also contact us. Its would nice of you all if we can clarify this.

    Thanks & Regards

    Ajai Bhatnagar

    Unfortunately,even TOI can’t give these names. However, its not the question of ‘this’ American, it may be him or it may be others like him. The important point is to recognize between the genuine and fraud. Some of the useful points to check can be:

    1. Upfront money.
    2. Outbound telemarketing.
    3. Payment on performance
    4. No office in India
    5. Reference in India not available due to ‘Confidentiality’

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